Monday, July 24, 2017

Budget & Insourcing for the week...

Insourcing is my way of tallying my value in the home. Do you ever do that? It gives me and my family a great way of putting a dollar value on all that we do.
This week, determined to stick to my Life Manifesto...
...I generated roses from several materials, and worked on the continuing renovation of our kitchen, which truly is the hub of life around here.
I created some rolled crepe paper roses, using hand dyed and stamped crepe paper streamers...

You start by making one of those accordion style streamers where you fold and fold to get this effect above.
You then secure the ends, and roll it around your fingers to get this very pretty rose effect. See here for a slideshow of instructions that I created last year. It will make more sense.

You can use fabric to make these as well. I made a few from a remnant of navy blue raw silk that surfaced in my fabric collection last week. I was supposed to be ....ahem...decluttering, but what's a girl to do when faced with lustrous silk and faux pearls?
I think I'll stitch these to cushions for the living room...
These efforts save me enormously in seeking satisfaction by shopping or spending. These days I am very content, fluffing around in my craft room, finding new fabrics and trims with which to adorn my home. And if I can't grow roses (although goodness knows I'll keep trying!), then I am determined to have roses around me in other ways.
 My son replanted his garden pod. He's an avid courtyard gardener, and this is worth mentioning as insourcing here, because not only does this give him free vegetables, but he gifts the excess to me! My son has Cerebral Palsy and grows his own food in his tiny enclosed courtyard attached to his apartment. If he can do it, anyone can. I'm great with herbs and fruit. He's great with herbs and veges. Between the two of us, we do okay. I'll call that a saving of about $15 on herbs this week.
I menu planned and shopped accordingly. This process is vital for effective time and money management, and for reducing waste and frustration! I start by looking at the week ahead, and what sort of timetable we have, then plan accordingly. Menu planning is not just about planning what you want to eat, and buying the ingredients. You can see more on this here.

I plan for the nights we are all home, and the ones we are not. I plan my prep schedule as well, to make the meal creating process as smooth as possible. I plan for breakfasts, lunches and snacks, not just for the evening meal. This makes a huge difference to how well we eat, how healthy we are, and how much I spend.

This week while shopping, I got some great bargains on blocks of cheese. I found these at a market that sells fresh meat and produce at prices far below the supermarket prices. I don't go there often, but when I do, I always wonder why I don't make it part of my monthly shopping routine. I feel some changes afoot! I've been inspired on this topic by Annabels posts at The Bluebirds are Nesting, on shopping further afield, and making the most of our budgets.
I grated some of the cheese using my rotary grater. I love how it spirals out from the base of the grater, and yields these lovely fine strands of cheese to pile abundantly upon anything from pizzas, to lasagna and sandwiches. This method of grating makes a small amount of cheese look really generous, so those little rotary parmesan graters are well worth the investment.

I sliced and cubed the rest of my bargain cheese, and popped it into the freezer. I think we have about 4 months supply of cheese for under $20. And we eat a lot of cheese! That's a saving of around $100.
I also found small knobs of Virginia ham which we like for it's lower fat content, and sliced those up for sandwiches and cooking. They too, were about one third of the price of a similar purchase, even at Aldi, the supermarket of choice around here. I purchased 3 knobs of ham for $12. These would normally be $12 each. $24 saved.

I taught my daughter how to make a baked cheesecake. She'd seen one in Coles for $38. $38!!! For a cheesecake? Has the world gone mad? We baked this one for under $5. A cheesecake after all, is just cream cheese beaten with eggs and flavouring, and baked till firm. We added passionfruit pulp to ours as we have a glut of passionfruit gifted by my Mother-in-Law.
Baked cheesecake is not the most beautiful thing as seen above, still cooling in it's springform tin. But frankly the one in Coles was far less attractive, and at nearly 8 times the price, pretty measly looking too! I can assure you, that my baked cheesecake is melt-in-the-mouth delicious!
Here's the only photograph I managed of a slice of our cheesecake. It disappeared too quickly! But you can see from this photo, that ours had a light, mousse-like texture, that I'm fairly certain was an improvement on the Coles bakery version! At $5 vs $38, that's a saving of $33.
Here's my recipe in four sentences:
Beat 500gms of cream cheese with 3 eggs, the pulp of 3-6 passionfruit, and 1/2 cup of caster (superfine) sugar. Pour into a springform pan, lined with a mixture of 250gms of crushed biscuits mixed with 120gms of melted butter, pressed firmly into the base. Bake at 160C fan forced, until just firm in the middle, around 35-55 minutes depending upon your oven and the size of your pan. Allow to cool in the pan, then remove the outer ring of the springform, and chill before serving.

I sourced the makings of some gifts on eBay some weeks ago, and these all arrived. I formed small sewing kits with Eiffel Tower scissors and hand made needle threaders to gift to Mums who had helped with costume making for the school. At around $6 for each kit, as opposed to $35 each for the ones I had admired, it was a significant saving. 10 kits for $60 over 10 kits for $350! A saving of $290!

I found this lovely photograph and quote in a Notebook magazine I leafed through, saving clippings and recipes as I went. I then discarded the magazine. I'm a bit of a bower bird for magazines, and have to force myself to cull them regularly. They take up so much space! I'll call that a sanity!
I posted this pic and quote on Instagram, and interestingly Marie-Anne Lecouer, (author and owner of The French Chic Academy), who follows me on Instagram, commented thus..

"I like that. Many people would say it is a poverty mindset and you have to spend what you can't afford to be in alignment etc. But I say thrift is about character and looking for value. Seek value in everything that you do and then you find value everywhere. Moreover you will find it within you - that is the most valuable thing you have".
So I guess this fits with the French philosophy of not spending indiscriminately, and saving for those things you truly value, thus appreciating them more. It's that idea of quality, not quantity. Don't be thinking that being 'thrifty', equates to being 'cheap'. There is nothing wrong with feeling you have generated VALUE in making your purchases, be it a new car, a new coat, or the weekly grocery spend. This is an important mindset, and one that I only appreciate more and more as I grow older.
Your efforts at making the family budget stretch, should never been seen as mean or stingy. You are simply seeking the best value for your dollar, and for your family. That is a skill of which to be proud.
While culling my magazine collection, I also found these cute cheese graters. I just thought I'd share them here because they're pretty. Why shouldn't a cheese grater be useful and pretty?

I found time to admire the inspiration for my oven alcove too...

...soon, soon.
Meanwhile the kitchen renovation progresses ever slowly, as things do when you're a DIY-er  Insourcing. I have to say I am quite thrilled with my new Husband-built cabinetry, with cute Faux window. That was an afterthought, and one that I loved immediately.

That window was going to be blocked in, but when the cabinetry inadvertently sort of grew around the window, we decided to leave it like that. I feel like I could run over any time, fling the window open, and call 'Dinners Ready', just like my Mum used to. Husband made the cute faux window frame, and attached the brass fittings. Clever Husband also cut, stained and coated that bench top in 2-pac. I think it looks lovely. I cannot even guess at how much we saved by building all of that ourselves. Probably thousands. Let's say $1,000 for arguments sake. That will do.
The next step in the kitchen renovation will be to remove the current oven and ceramic hotplate. That's going to leave a hole in the benchtop, and I was a bit lost for how to disguise it. We've decided the solution will be an insert of marble into the bench, allowing it sit above the bench with a lambs tongue edge, as seen in this picture. My benchtops are almost identical to those seen here below, but with the high gloss finish of my nook, seen above. I already have an inset marble chopping and kneading block at the other end of my bench, so we will replace that with the same lambs ear edged marble, and they'll both look like they were meant to be there. I hope. Gulp. We'll source the marble directly from the factory here, as we did previously. I estimate the cost will be around $200-$300 as opposed to $1500 quoted by a kitchen specialist. That's a $1200 saving. Husband will install them.

So that gives me a DIY  Insourcing tally of $1662, plus whatever I saved by crafting rather than shopping and spending. I'm happy to call it a $1700 week, knowing that the kitchen renovation DIY efforts have saved us enormously.
How was your week? I know you're good at this insourcing thing too. I'm dying to hear!


  1. Thank you Mimi! What a week! I love the cheesecake and your sons gardening! I also have at times found amazing deals and thought "I met shop here more often" and as you know Im on this mission to get into a new routine... some places it would only be necessary to go once a month or less even to make a heap of difference to what we are paying. Its kind of getting into the new routine. I like the window that you kept alot! xxx

    1. Dear Annabel, the cheesecake was divine, and they're so easy, I always wonder why I don't make them more often. It was certainly a good lesson for Miss 17! I agree that shopping differently means changes to the routine. The market I mentioned is crazy busy on the day I'd normally shop, so on the weeks I go there, I try to go mid week, and first thing in the morning. Otherwise you can stand at the checkout for 45 minutes. They're just the old fashioned fruit shop checkouts, not moving belt or anything, so it's a matter of fill the small space, wait for the operator to process those items, then fill it again. A little tedious, but the savings are significant, so it's worth the wait. You're going great guns. You should be proud! I'm glad you like my Fairy window. I love it too. Mimi xxx

  2. Dear Mimi-love your handmade Roses, delicate and feminine.Your DD's cheesecake looks yum! Lovely that your DS grows his own herbs and that both of you can share your garden produce .Your kitchen is coming along and then faux window , and shiny wooden bench under it ,look charming and sweet .Your Dh is very handy and clever :-).
    And the little sewing kits are darlings.
    Im trying new shops too lately ,following Annabel's blog and yours, and taking note of prices.
    Thankyou for the inspirations, love Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria, thankyou. You are always generous with your compliments! Yes, the kitchen is getting there! I've had almost daily cleaning up of sawdust and whatnot, but it's worth it! I'm hoping to try Line Dancing next week. There is a new class springing up near me. You've mentioned it so often, you've convinced me! Love, Mimi xxx

  3. You are a total inspiration Mimi in every way. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and encourage us to tread our own path and be proud of our thrifty ways.

    1. Jools, thankyou. These posts are meant to affirm the path of those of us who choose home as our work, so I hope it does that. Yes, be proud. It's an important job. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. Once again my Dear Mimi, your post is very inspiring! Gardening is in full swing here and it is such a wonderful feeling to be able to walk outside and find enough veggies for a salad or meal! Your son is an amazing guy. His veggies are wonderful! We have an orchard about 20 mi from our home I love to visit. They have the different fruits of the season. Right now it is 🍑 peaches. I always ask if they have any seconds which they most usually do. I got 20 lb of peaches for 1.00 a lb normally 2.00. It is a large amount of fruit which can be used for eating, making jam and gifting! I love deals like this. My first adventure into making mozzarella cheese was a great learning experience and tasted so good! I love your crepe paper roses! They are beautiful and I can see so many possibilities! Your kitchen is going to be beautiful! Enjoy your week! I appreciated your encouragement with your posts! Blessings my dear friend!

    1. Dear Lynn, thankyou for your lovely thoughts today. I've been admiring your gardening posts, and they are truly a feast for the eyes! How lovely to have a peach orchard. I can imagine the scent of 20lbs of peaches was heavenly! Your cheese looked fabulous, and isn't it always a revelation when you finally twig to how easy these things are to make vs buying them! I hope your week is lovely. Mimi xxx

  5. You never cease to amaze me with the talent that runs in your family! That cheesecake looked divine and your son's garden is beautiful. As usual your crafting is inspiring me to try a few things myself. The kitchen though...oh that just takes the cake! WOW! I love that faux window and the bench under it!

    1. Goodness Debbie! What a compliment!

  6. Hello!
    I'm green with envy over the savings on your kitchen renovation. This week three quotes have arrived to two pack paint new cupboard doors in our kitchen. Re-using hinges and runners and the gorgeous existing knobs will cost between $13000 and $22000. I'm reeling!

    1. Deborah have you checked with a cabinet maker to see if it is cheaper? I am not sure on this but check out the car resprayers or similar, they may do doors.


    2. Dear Deborah, you might be interested to know that you can DIY two-pac. You paint one thing on, allow it to cure, then paint another. It's no different than painting undercoat and top coat! Check it out at your hardware store. Mimi xxx

  7. I love savings, specially from a HUGE job as a kitchen renovation my friend! Although we did a 'total' kitchen make over, we did use handles, hinges, etc., plus the laundry room as well.
    You did an awesome job!
    The cheesecake looks yummy and the garden BY YOUR SON...just wonderful! Talented bunch.

    1. Fabby, I know, right? Kitchens and bathrooms are just a remodelling bankruptcy! Yes, my son is clever beyond measure. I am so proud of him :) Mimi xxx

  8. I have a few old Notebook magazines. Now they are now longer being published I will probably keep the ones I have a while longer. I have a stack of old Victoria magazines some I have kept since the 90's.

    1. Sherri, those Notebook magazines were gorgeous. But I don't have room for them and me in the! Victoria is a lovely one too. Mimi xxx

  9. Hello! You've accomplished so much, you inspire me. When I get more energy in a few months....
    Well done!
    Be blessed!
    ஐღ Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage ღஐ
    ...doing what I can with what I've got
    where I am on a short shoestring budget!

    1. Hello Sweetness. I hope the coming months bring good health and good fortune for you. Love, Mimi xxx

  10. So true, our efforts at creating a warm home environment are truly worth something! You do an amazing job, and I love the thrifty tips! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!
    xo Kathleen|Our Hopeful Home

    1. Thankyou Kathleen. You always say something lovely and encouraging. Mimi xxx

  11. I LOVE this idea of "insourcing"! What a wonderful concept, and what a great way to think of what you're doing. God bless you as you continue to make your house a lovely home.


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx